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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 22, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 04
Montana governor to protect LGBT state employees
Section One
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Montana governor to protect LGBT state employees

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

To celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock signed an executive order prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity for state employees, as well employees of the state's contractors and subcontractors.

The new order expands on protections instituted by then-Gov. Brian Schweitzer in 2008, protecting state employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation only.

Bullock's order will go into effect immediately and will direct Montana's Department of Administration to ensure that state agencies, as well as state contractors and subcontractors, do not discriminate in employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The order also bans discrimination in the provision of government services and calls for inclusive non-discrimination and harassment prevention programs with an emphasis on cultural diversity.

Like 30 other states, Montana lacks civil rights laws protecting its LGBT residents, something Gov. Bullock noted in his speech at the signing. Four Montana cities - Bozeman, Butte, Helena, and Missoula - have nondiscrimination ordinances that protect LGBT residents from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

'[W]hile an executive order applies to state government only, I encourage private businesses to examine their policies as well,' the governor said.

Like Schweitzer, Bullock is a Democrat governing a predominantly Republican state with a Republican-controlled legislature. He was elected in 2012 after serving as Montana attorney general.

In a press statement, HRC hailed the governor's action.

'Discrimination in any form is wrong, and through his actions today, Gov. Bullock has taken a bold step to expand equality and fairness for all,' said HRC President Chad Griffin.

'We commend him for doing everything in his administrative power to fight for the rights of LGBT Montanans, and hope his actions encourage other government officials to make safeguarding protections for all residents and visitors a priority.'

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